Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Unwrapped..

The top of the piano looks lonely now. Bare. It always does right after Christmas. Right after the presents are opened and stored, or being played with. Soon the decorations will be fully put away and clutter will take it's rightful place on top of the piano. Things we didn't want to leave down. Things the kids were fighting over.

We celebrated Christmas with just our family. We started on Christmas Eve with the great unwrapping.

As they unwrapped their gifts, there was much squealing and joyfulness because of what the kids might have discovered underneath the paper. I was hugged so many times my heart was full, just from sharing the moments with them.

My love language is gifts. So Christmas, birthdays, any gift giving occasion is always sweet to me.

Sometimes, as a parent, though, I question my choices. We chose not to include Santa Claus in our Christmas years ago. Waaay Back when Mini-Me was a baby. The Professor and I discussed the issue and the only resounding issue was Gratefulness.Even back then, I can tell you I was not the same person I am today. But gratefulness was the main issue.

"How can the kids be grateful to a man who sneaks in the house and leaves?"

So Santa doesn't come to our house. We talk about him. We talk about who Saint Nicholas was but mostly we focus on Jesus. This year was fun. We celebrated the Feast of  Tabernacles, which according to the math done by some scholars, that was when Jesus would have been born.

Then we watched "The Star of Bethlehem". Where the dad did the math and realized that the end of December very likely could have been when the Magi visited Jesus.

We celebrated that God was made flesh and came down to earth ... to grow and live as we have.
We celebrated family and individuality - because each gift was unique to the recipient.
And I got all the hugs and the "Oh, THANK YOU!!!" . (The professor got his fair share, too. but they know who did the shopping) I sat there among the toys that needed to be removed from their packaging and thought to myself ... "THIS is why Santa doesn't come to our house."

It was a most excellent Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maybe I'll be....

(c) 2010 ComfyDenim
I don't often post pictures of the kids anymore. Not since a picture of Mini-Me was popping up on my sitecounter as one of the reasons people were visiting my blog. It was weird. So I don't post pictures of them any more.

In order to get the full impact of my story, you have to see this face. 
He's 6. 

He gets caught up in the conversations of his bigger sibs about what they want to be when they grow up.

Mini-Me wants to be a marine biologist and save the blue whales. She rather enjoys the thought that she might have to go to Hawai'i to go to school. If this is where God takes her - then I plan on visiting. 


G-man wants to be a guitar playing, spy who builds things. He has a list of buildings. He is going to build a house that The Professor will design. He wants to build a church - because no one will suspect he's in the church. Spying

So really, J-man gets caught up in it.

Once he wanted to be an animal rescuer. 
Then he wanted to be a spy with his brother.
Sometimes he wants to design video games.

Tonight I prayed over the boys that "my boys will be arrows in Your hands" and I explained what that meant. Because he's six and he thought the wording was weird. So I explained.

Then he told me that he wanted to be a spy.

"Cool." I said and went on to put Mini-E to bed.

He followed me later and said, "I've changed my mind. I ... that I want to be a regular guy. You know. And .... get married and stuff."

That's cool, too. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making plans and checking them twice...

Christmas last year just wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. I don't know why, I don't exactly remember. I think there was a lot of stress going on and stress and Christmas just don't always go together to create a jolly experience. 

I didn't even get out the Christmas music. And we barely had a tree up. 

This year, there's minimal decorations up but they're pretty. Sparkly. And blue. I like my color theme of blue and silver. 

This year I've played Christmas music...but I've avoided the sleepy kind. You know the ones I mean. Perry Como. Andy Williams. *yawn*

This year I'm actually excited to join in the fun with the kids.

This week, we're on half-day school days. Which is not as easy as it sounds. Lots of excitement in the air. 

I've been telling the kids since the Professor will be home on Friday, he'd be able to teach. They all groaned. They're all counting down to Christmas day. We've rarely opened gifts on Christmas day...mostly because of extenuating circumstances.

One year it was an ice storm.
One year it was family coming.

They haven't noticed the trend and I'm not going to point it out to them. I think it'll be fun to continue to tell them that we'll have school on Friday and then suddenly announce, "Present time!"

*rubs hands in anticipation*

It's going to be a blast.
And I'll get to be the good cop for once. 

Cat Fish...

While the rest of my hemisphere was talking about the lifetime event of the lunar eclipse that happened last night, I was sitting on my couch writing.

I'd have to say it was right around ten PM...
When, what to my wondering ears should appear....but a cat through the doggy door.

Okay - it didn't rhyme. 
but that's what happened.
Jack Oy came through the doggy door, hurried quickly through the front room. He HURRIED so quickly, he had Gizmo's attention. He kept low to the ground as he moved quickly...

and he jingled all the way. 

I kid you not. 
At first my brain thought it was odd then I realized how Jack was running, low to the ground and the jingling was coming from the back half of his body. And it was green...

Something was wrong. And it was a fishing lure.

I said so to the Professor and gave chase. Luckily, Gizmo had given chase, too. I followed the jingling of Gizmo's dog tags to find Jack.

He had wedged himself between the storage bins under J-man's bed. I tried to pull him out, but his claws held to the carpet. I got my hand under him again and picked up up and pulled him out. He still tried to hold on to the carpet but I got him out from under the bed.

I turned him over and sure enough. There was a fishing lure embedded in Jack's stomach area. It was more than a little freaky to see.

I was close to disturbing sleeping children, so we went back to the front room. I had the Professor grab a towel. We wrapped the towel around Jack's upper body to keep the professor from getting scratched (and he doesn't like cats). 

I tried to see if I could remove the lure. It wasn't budging. He was caught and good. 

I nearly took a picture of it - but that seemed especially cruel. 
Instead, The Professor held Jack while I went to get the carrier. Cat in Carrier. Called the Kitty Urgent Care. Put shoes on. Drove down the highway. 

When I got there, the receptionist had pulled Jack's information from when he'd been in before. December 9th. 


They took him back into the exam room. 
There was another crisis in the animal urgent care and I felt for them. They were saying good bye to their friend. 
I had a book to read and I waited.

One of the vet tech's came out and grinned, "Would it be okay if we gave the cat fish some pain meds? He seems okay with everything and we think he'll do great with just pain meds."


They gave him a local and some pain meds. The Vet had to push the barbs through and then cut them. Everyone in the office were small women. And it was a thick barb to cut but the finally got it cut and removed.

The receptionist told me that the Vet was probably going to keep the lure. She apparently keeps odd things she has to extract from her patients. More power to her. 

When they brought him back to me, a different Vet tech with a glittering nose ring (Shiny!) told me, "He's as high as a kite!"

I could see it. His eyes were glassy. 

When we got him home, he wanted outside immediately but we blocked the doggy door. Showed him the kitty box. He wanted nothing to do with it.
I wish I could have known what was flashing through his little stoned kitty brain. 
They were some good drugs, let me tell you.
He pounced on coats. He pounced on a plastic horse. 

He chased Maggie around the big blue chair.
He and Maggie chased after each other around the table. 
He was playing. We're not so sure about her. 
She kept coming back to him. So she either knew he was stoned, and wanted some drugs, too, or she knew he wasn't himself and hoped to dominate the situation. Show him who's boss. 

I don't know how it all played out. They both have two eyes. There's no blood on the tile.  

He's currently sleeping off his bender in pure kitty fashion.
Maggie isn't available for comment. She's asleep in the closet. 

He may have a new nickname, now. 
I may have to start calling him Catfish Jack Oy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why are the holidays so weird?

I'm going to be perfectly blunt. 
What my brother said to me was, "Why do the holidays have to be so f*****g weird?"

And I have to ask the same question.

Oh, sure. Thanksgiving and Christmas is supposedly about togetherness. I get that. Peace and good will to all, certainly. I get that, too. 

But somewhere in it all -- there is invariably something 'weird' that pops up. 

For my brother and I, it was random facebook messages from a long-distant sister-in-law. She told us both that she thought we would like to see pictures of our niece and nephews. 

We haven't heard from her in, goodness, 4 years more or less. And that's how she wants to word it??

As The Professor says when I asked him his opinion, "I don't see anything wrong with it, but I don't see anything good in it, either." 

You might say, that it's a gesture of peace.
If that's the case, the wording sucked.

As my brother put it - "Let me know what your inner turmoil tells you." And that's where I am. 
I don't just want pictures. I think it's paltry offering after 4 years. After not being able to see any of them, save the time my brother drove up for a funeral. There's been no communication. At all.

My brother and I had a fight, via e-mail and that was the last of it.
I don't know what to think -- except that the timing is weird.
That the entire message was weird.
I didn't like having the guilt trip in the message.


And then - my other weird moment came when A friend wrote on her blog, in a series of blog posts that she no longer believes in God. 

She's been silent in our communications and I was chalking it up to another lost friendship. I seem to have a lot of them. 

Her confessions don't make me question my own faith.
I do wish that I had the words to counter what she has questioned but I think she's had enough words. Far too much religious doctrine piled up and not enough evidence that God actually works.

What would you do?
Would you try to convince her? Would you simply break off communications?

I'm tired of losing friends. So I won't do either. 

She suddenly has Sundays free and I pointed that out. 

I still want to be her friend and I won't temper what I say to her but I have to wonder how her new found belief system (which seems to be trending toward Atheism) colors her opinion of ... well, me.

I've come out of a tough situation and I've decreed that I still believe in God. 
I believe He did divinely create the world, and me. She thinks if there is a divine creator he was drunk because nothing He made makes sense. 

So while I'm wondering why the holidays have to be so weird, I'm glad I didn't wrap her Christmas present. 

Do Atheists celebrate Christmas?? 
It seems rather pointless, to be honest. 
but that's probably a blog post of a different color.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mama's got a brand new ...


Fuji Camera w/panasonic batteries.
For Christmas, The Professor got me a new camera. He let me open it early so I could get used to it before Christmas.

According to the reviews on the megalopolis of on-line shopping, this is considered a 'step up' camera. It's a step up from a 'point and shoot' but it's not quite the camera used by professionals. I like those cameras, too, my sister-in-law has one. This fit in the budget. 

I've played with it. And though - Really, I couldn't have done this with my other camera. Are all my pictures perfect??

But it's fun. 
Castle on the table...
I was writing and the camera was within reach. So i took a picture of the castle. I had taken a picture of a different toy before that. 

I liked the way the color showed on the display. 
Then I looked through the window of the castle. 

I can see the world from here
 The view caught my fancy. I would NEVER have gotten this shot with my other camera. 

What's a castle without a dragon??
To my right, on the window sill, I've got him in my sights. 

ignore the graffiti
 He was surveying from the relative safety of the curtain.

On a completely different note:
HA! Pun!!

Mini-E came to me and said, "Mom! Look what I made, you can see the future!"
crayon on sticky-note, 2010
I love my camera!!
I'm tempted to take it everywhere with me but stores frown on that.
So I'm waiting for SNOW. 

in the meantime, I take random pictures.
My kids put up with me - even suggesting photo-ops. Like the mound of stuffed animals.

I love my camera.

Merry Christmas to me.

PS - if you're a facebook friend - sorry about the deja vu 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time marches on...

Sometimes it down right runs me over!!!

J-man is about to lose two front teeth. The top two. He won't wiggle them because they poke his gums. He won't let me try to pull them either. So I'm trying to make a game of it. I don't know who's going to be more surprised when I finally snag that tooth from his head, me or him.

I realized, as I've realized several times, that this is the VERY last year I will need K4 curriculum. Of any sort. Part of me is glad because We've used it since G-man was in K4. (6 years ago!) I'm not really sad that my baby is going to be5.


Nope. I'm just ... struck by how time seems to fluctuate. Maybe I need a new capacitor like from the move - "Back to the Future". I've had the K4 books for 6 years. Part of me thinks it's weird to get rid of them. And then the other part of me thinks... we're going to need more room on the shelves. Ditch the books!!

Really, I think my hiccup of thought comes from the fact that I never thought the day would come. And yet - come the next school year, these books will be sent to the recycling center.

Back at Passover -- and the months that followed - time seemed to plod slowly, achingly forward. Each day was a challenge. Each thing was an up-hill battle. Then SUDDENLY that was over and I've been thrust forward.

Suddenly I find myself in December.

I think I'm a bit dizzy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Write Thinking...

Over the weekend of the fourth, I found myself fighting a funk. It's not depression. It's just a 'blah' sort of thing that's less than my normal.

They come from time to time, these funks. It's part of my personality. High highs and low lows. I can honestly tell you that I am like David in this.

We think alike.  One minute I can be all "There are enemies in the bushes" and the next I am "but Great are you my King."

It's not a wrong Diagnosis. God said so. 

The funk comes from emotional upheaval. The emotional upheaval comes, or CAN come, from lack of sleep, the stress of the day, the stress related to relationships, from the Professor's work place and even from the weather. 

However it comes, the funk always throws me off my stride. 

I am the first person to admit that something is amiss. I tell The Professor about it. I hide in the bedroom or go out for a while by myself. If that doesn't work, we don't do school work and I just read. 

I don't do dishes when I'm in a funk.
That just doesn't help.

Sometimes, the funk comes related to what I know I'm called to do.
I'm going to write books. 
So sometimes when I'm mentally down, or mentally funkish (that amused me) I really doubt my ability to write stories.

Especially when I get tongue tied over an argument.
I guess I'm not meant to argue - but I still try. 

I am also the first person to admit that a first draft of anything is s**t. (Hemmingway said it. Don't snap at me.) I loved this quote when I first read it ... it made me feel better about what I write. 

I may not be on the same level as Raymond Feist or JD Robb - but I like my characters.

MOST of the time.

Okay - on the flip side I will go back and read things I've written that I consider especially clever. I just wanted you to see that I have another side. 

I heard this saying once: "You don't have to be the best out there - you just have to be out there." 
I enjoyed this quote for much the same reason as above. Unless I have a funk.

In a funk, this quote takes a maudlin sort of tone. "I'll never be the best."

I know - you can tell me to suck it up. I promise it sounds weirder reading about it than living it, I'm sure. The mental arguments are much the same as what I've listed above and I have long arguments with myself. 

This weekend of the fourth, I decided to see how others fought this. I found this article:
How to Chase Away the Writer's Blues

It was instant encouragement to me. 

Each of the top reasons the author has highlighted at the top of her argument are things I have struggle with. 

Comparison - It's hard not to, I think. At least *I* haven't learned how to not compare myself. I have to be careful not to compare what I write with what someone else writes - especially if the topics might be close. (There is nothing new under the sun, after all.)

Feelings of Inadequacy - It can stem from comparisons, as well as struggling for the write  Correct words.

Seasons of Life - With children and a husband - this is a huge definite. And sometimes it's difficult to balance everything.

Spiritual warfare - This is a 'gimme'. If you're a believer - this is just gonna happen. If it doesn't then you have other problems.

Rejection - So far those I've shared my stories with like them. However. I am just now beginning the 'game' of query letters and approaching agents. It will take a choice not to be bummed by an agent's rejection. And Holy Spirit has already warned me that the religious won't like me.

I enjoyed reading Ms. Barritt's notes.
The question "Can you walk away?" struck me. And struck me hard.

I could answer this question, even in the middle of the funk, with a resounding, NO. 
I can not walk away.

I've never been able to walk away from my imagination and I can't walk away now. 
I liked the encouragement. 

So - Sunday night I was still fighting the funk. It was better because I'd been reading and reading and sleeping and sleeping  but I knew it was there...

Sunday night our church passed around a basket of Keys. Each inscribed with different words. I'm sure they were the same five words, but I didn't know what they were. I knew there was "love" and "dream" but i didn't know what else was in the basket.

When it was my turn to choose a key, I was in the middle of a moment with Holy Spirit where He was touching the aching parts of my heart. I started rifling through the keys wanting God to give me the key He wanted to give me. Something that would speak to me. I expected "freedom" or "Dreams" - because those have been important through 2010. As I rifled, I realized it was silly because, hey - it's God.

I picked a key and looked at it. 

I laughed. Out loud. In the middle of that moment.
It's okay. Everyone is used to it.

God took that moment to encourage me and to love on me.
It did more for me than any thing else might have. 

It made me realize just how important it is to have a "NOW word" from God. Not just the often quoted verses that might just be used as platitudes. 

He gave me my word. 
   He reminded me that I wasn't wrong with my Write thinking
       and my heart was happy and the funk was gone. 

Christmas Thinking...

Christmas light
I've been thinking about Christmas. It started after Mini-Me had her 12th birthday. Usually I have to go from thinking of "birthday" to thinking of "Christmas" right away. Gifts and such because I need to know what to get. We have family out of state and buying for them and mailing them with enough time to allow for postal slow downs was always a challenge.

Even with the mega of all shopopolises of @mazon working for me, I still have to think of what to buy. You know how it is. Or maybe you don't. I won't make that assumption. That's just how it is for me. 

Have you noticed how many facets of Christmas there are? Not the meaning of Christmas as it stands as Jesus' birthday - but the other stuff that strives to distract us.

I am not talking about the shopping. I'm not talking about the parties. I'm not talking about the music - although that COULD be a topic entirely.  I'm really talking about Christmas religious politics.

Last year, a friend of mine mentioned in an e-mail that she was getting multiple e-mails that encouraged her to 'keep Christ in Christmas'. She considered it ironic because she considered herself a non-practicing pagan. I'm paraphrasing there but the point is made.

I thought then, as I think now - "HOW?? HOW is that sort of 'thing' a witness? Of ANY kind besides that we can out religious each other?"

ALL year- Yes, you read that correctly, I've mulled that over. I've mulled it over as I thought about the phrase "Jesus is the reason for the season" (actually - Jesus is the reason for Christmas not the season. There's this whole equinox thing that happens...) and I've considered all the noise about stores wishing shoppers happy holidays instead of "Merry Christmas". 

Sheesh people!!!


What does that "NOISE" tell people?!?!?! Because, really that's all it is. Noise.

I am coming at this whole thing with the desire for the TRUTH and not RELIGIOUS truth but I want REAL truth. I scorn religion. I have been set free and I do NOT want to go back ... and every time someone on facebook says "Keep Christ in Christmas" I get a mild headache. 

Are they scorning commercialism? It's not a new thing. Just watch Charlie Brown's Christmas.

Are they feeling like their belief system is being scorned? Are they afraid that should people wish "Happy Holidays' just one more time it'll be like a spell cast to remove Jesus from Christmas? 

I seriously am frustrated. It is this type of religious noise that makes people stand back and look. and not in the good, interested way.

I am here to tell you - it's another way to keep people distanced and disinterested. It's a way to keep people from accepting. Like my friend. She KNEW the very beginning of Christmas from its pagan roots. 

I don't have all my thoughts formulated. I'm still working on this. 
I watched Bart Millard of MercyMe get flamed by using the phrase "x-mas" on Twitter (TO SAVE SPACE!!) That is not a Christian reaction either.

Sometimes I think people are so interested in saving the religion that we forget there are people involved. 

I remember getting upset with a friend a very long time ago about 'x-mas'. I remember that it was the start of a damper on our relationship. I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I knew that friendship should be held tighter than the views over the name.

Certainly - Christmas is a celebration of Jesus' birthday. ... and if we take him out, we'll have returned the holiday to it's pagan roots - but, but, but, how hard would that be? I mean really? Christmas is ingrained in our culture. 

How we, as believers, approach the holidays (Or ANYTHING else) will need to shine brighter than everything around them in this holiday. If we're grousing about this 'noise' - we're really not shining.

If we get out there, as we go about the business of life, with JOY in our hearts and the heart of Jesus in our actions think of the power we can show -- THAT will ring truer than religious tenets. 

Religion is really only good for the religious - it's not so good for the unbeliever. (It wasn't good for me, either)

Jesus came so that we could have not just life after this one - but that we could have POWER.
THAT is what needs to be in evidence.
THAT is what will speak loudest over all the noise.

I plan to celebrate Christmas. I plan to worship a God who loved me so much He sent Jesus to earth to grow and learn as I did.

And hopefully, that will be a testimony that will speak louder than noise.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas can, can you?

I want to blog. I have stuff to tell you.
I finished my NaNoWrimMo story but I didn't finish it at the same time. I've got to finish the last two chapters but I didn't feel good that last week of the month.

Then I took up reading a few books. Ravished about four of them. Maybe I was putting words back in??

Then we started Christmas prep. Decorations. I took some time to wrap the gifts and stack them on the piano. This Christmas actually looks like it might be more fun than last year.

Last year I didn't even bother getting the Christmas music out.

This year? This year, I'm listening to this:

Merry Christmasy stuff to ya'll.